Down Life’s Crazy Road: Kane-Warren fall foliage bicycle trip
By John Pozza
This year I wanted to explore the towns of Kane and Warren in McKean and Warren counties, respectively, as part of an overnight fall foliage bicycle trip along the Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds landscape of the PA Wilds.
These two towns have undertaken significant redevelopment the past few years and are “must visit” locations.
The bike trip will start late morning in downtown Kane where I will park my car overnight at one of the many unmetered spaces on North Fraley Street.
After a wonderful early lunch at the fabulous Table 105 Restaurant, I will depart on my 41-mile trip to Warren where I’ll spend the night and return the next day riding a shorter 31-mile route back to Kane.
My trip will start along Route 321 (Kinzua Avenue/Kane-Marshburg Road). The road travels all within the Allegheny National Forest, and eventually along the Allegheny River, before taking a sharp turn to the northeast, ending at Route 59.
Turning left onto 59 heading west, the road continues to travel through the heavily wooded national forest, where I hope to view some spectacular fall foliage in bright orange, yellow and red hues. The road eventually crosses an inlet of the Allegheny River over Kinzua Bridge to Kinzua Point, offering a spectacular view of the river near the Rimrock Overlook. The route then follows the south side of the river all the way to Warren.
Photo: Rimrock Overlook
Several scenic off-road hiking and mountain biking diversions can be explored along the last leg into Warren. Included are the Rimrock and Morrison Trail Loops, Jakes Rocks Overlook, Bent Run Waterfall, and the Kinzua Dam Outflow.
This route by bicycle, according to various travel apps, can take an average of 3 hours and 45 minutes or longer, depending on your speed and the number of breaks. It also involves a few moderate hill climbs.
Photo: Trails at Jakes Rocks
Once in Warren, there’s a plethora of places to stop for lunch or dinner, and a cold beverage. The first possible spots are Wells Hog Wild BBQ and Grille on 59, and Dairy Delite where 59 meets Route 6.
The final leg of the route involves getting on Route 6 for a short period before turning right onto Business Route 6, and crossing the bridge over the Allegheny where Business 6 becomes Pennsylvania Avenue in Warren.
Photo: Route 6 biking near Warren, photo by Kyle Yates
Once entering town, there are numerous places to visit, but I will first check into the Liberty Air B&B where I have a reservation. It is located across from the historic Struthers Library Theatre.
Downtown Warren is the epicenter of the city’s redevelopment near the city’s Riverwalk and Overlook. Several pubs and restaurants can be found near the corner of Pennsylvania and Second Avenue, including The Crossing, New York Style Pizza and The Plaza. Each bistro also offers outdoor seating in nice weather.
Photo: Riverwalk in Warren
If you prefer a legal beverage or two as I do, a short distance away on either side of Pennsylvania Avenue are: Draft House, Cornerstone Lounge & Family Restaurant, Snuffy’s Cafe & Lounge, Christie’s Downtown Pub & Grill, Pub 302 & Eatery and Fat Daddy’s Tap Room & Grill.
Of course, any visit to downtown Warren is not complete unless you visit the historic Warren Public Library, and the beautifully restored Struthers Library Theatre, both on West 3rd Avenue. The Struthers has hosted numerous entertainers, past and present over the years, ranging from Harry Houdini, John Philip Sousa, Irene Castle, Harry Louder, Victor Herbert and Cecil B. De Mille from its vaudeville days, to more recent and diverse performers, including Michael Bolton, Grand Funk Railroad, Dwight Yoakum, Marshall Tucker, Ricky Scaggs, Kansas, the Commodores and Don McLean.
Photo: Warren skyline
Warren also boasts its own downtown bicycle shop, appropriately named, Warren Cycle Shop, on Liberty Street. Along with having an in-house mechanic for repairs and adjustments, the bike shop carries a full supply of bicycles, rentals, accessories, trail maps, parts and apparel.
I will take a slightly different return trip back to Kane the following day, taking fewer stops in order to get back sooner. Coming out of Warren, I plan to ride on Business Route 66; but instead of turning onto Route 59 on the other side of the river, I will stay on Business 66 which turns into regular Route 66, otherwise known as Grand Republic of the Army Highway.
This route also runs through the Allegheny National Forest through the small towns of Clarendon, Tiona and Sheffield. Once through, Sheffield, the route is decidedly more rural, but dotted with beautiful farm land and fall landscapes. It takes you through the small town of Ludlow and Wildcat Park, before reaching Kane.
The shorter return trip is expected to take 3 hours and 15 minutes. Route 6 provides a wider shoulder to ride on, but it also includes steeper hill climbs. It’s a trade off, with a risk-reward proposition. The risk is having the ability to maneuver the steeper climbs. The reward is having the wider shoulder and 10 fewer miles to ride.
Once back in Kane, my trip won’t be complete unless I stop at the wonderful Logyard Brewing Taproom on Fraley Street for a celebratory craft brew. Logyard beer, ales and IPAs, all brewed in Kane, are known throughout the PA Wilds for their excellence, and are available at numerous pubs and restaurants throughout the region.
After my celebratory draft, I can have an early dinner at Pepe’s Pizzeria for my favorite marguerita style pizza. Or, if I’m not in the mood for pizza or Italian food, there are other great eateries in town, especially those on Fraley Street, including Table 105, Twisted Vine Winery and Eatery, Peking Wok, Symanski’s Bar & Restaurant, Mad Dog 159 and Lillian’s.
For those who may not enjoy an extended trip by bicycle on the road as I do, there are two excellent trail routes in or near Kane. The Knox-Kane Rail Trail, named the 2023 PA Trail of the Year by the PA Department of of Conservation and Natural Resources, has two crushed limestone segments now completed. One runs approximately 7 miles from Kane to Lantz Corners along Route 6. The other is 7.5 miles from the trailhead in Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge State Park. A new trailhead can now be accessed on the segment to Lantz Corners. It’s located at the old Kane Depot Station off Route 6 just east of town.
The other trail is the Kinzua Valley Trail. It runs 10 miles along Kinzua Creek from its trailhead in the small village of Westline through parts of the Allegheny Forest to the Allegheny Reservoir. Adjacent to the trailhead is the historic Westline Inn. The Inn has two full service restaurants, including its moderately priced pub and grille containing a wood burning fireplace. The pub and grille is famous for attracting cross country skiers and snowmobilers in the winter. The Inn’s other eatery is a more formal, upscale and slightly more expensive restaurant with fine cuisine.
Photo: The Allegheny Reservoir
I’m very much looking forward to this trip, since I was forced to postpone the much longer one I planned last season. I’ll let you know how it all turns out next time.
About the author: John Pozza
John Pozza, of Brookville, is an early childhood education advocate and veteran broadcast journalist. He retired from the Region 1 Early Learning Resource Center based at the Northwest Institute of Research (NWIR) in Erie in 2020, but keeps active as a regular columnist for the Brookville, Brockway and Clarion Mirror, and as a contributing writer for Watershed Books in Brookville, which helped publish his memoir, “Was Anybody Really Listening,” available on Amazon, and his soon-to-be-released “Conversations on The Neighborhood” on the legacy of Fred Rogers. He also hosts the NWIR Quality Early Learning Show podcast on Soundcloud. John and his wife Lisa live in Brookville with their two cats, Rusty and Tinker Belle. They have a son Matt, a US Navy veteran, who is a graduate of the Claude Pettit College of Law at Ohio Northern University and practicing attorney in Jacksonville, Florida.
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